Pirates posing as Indonesian marine cops

Spot check: Supt Mohd Salehudddin (left) supervising an inspection on a fisherman’s boat in Pontian Besar.
PHOTO: The Star

PONTIAN, Malaysia - Pirates are believed to be disguising themselves as marine officers in attempts to fool local authorities as well as to carry out their illegal activities at sea.

Marine Police Southern Region Two deputy commander Supt Mohd Salehuddin Mat Zaman said the imposters usually would extort between RM10,000 ($3,288) and RM100,000 as well as take valuable items from local fishermen in Pontian waters.

Supt Mohd Salehuddin said the pirates usually aimed for trawler boats to carry out their illegal activities here.

"We have informed the related marine agencies in Indonesia about this matter and will also bring it up to Bukit Aman police headquarters to report to Wisma Putra which will then issue a diplomatic note to Indonesia.

"We hope that the diplomatic protest report to the Indonesian authorities will help in nabbing those unscrupulous individuals involved," he told reporters during a dialogue of a community policing programme between southern region II marine police and fishermen at the Malaysian Fisheries Development Author-ity hall in Pontian Besar yesterday.

He said the pirates were seen wearing what resembled Indonesian marine police uniforms during the incident between midnight and 4am.

"We are prone to these kind of activities by foreign pirates because only 20 nautical miles separates Pontian and Indonesian waters,," said Supt Mohd Salehuddin.

He added that the marine police would beef up efforts to tighten security and increase patrolling frequency to protect some 1,225 local fishermen.

"During our routine patrols, we will deploy some 10 enforcement officers with two boats within a 30 nautical mile radius between Tanjung Piai and Pulau Pisang from the Kukup Tactical Marine southern region II.

"Between November and December last year, we received four reports involving extortion attempts against our local fishermen in Pontian waters which happened during the wee hours," he said.